These days it feels like cash is disappearing by the minute. Just look at fintech giants like Ant, which started as an e-commerce escrow service and now handles over $16 trillion dollars in payments for over a billion users. Rural market purchases in China don’t involve yuan anymore, they’re done with cell phones and QR codes.
Last year, over two-thirds of the world’s 37 billion mobile money transactions happened in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Sweden, where less than ten percent of all payments are made in cash, the government is considering moving completely to a digital currency. Indeed, according to a recent study approximately 70% of central banks around the world are considering issuing their own digital currency.
The idea of a cashless future isn’t new (researchers have been discussing the concept of the “checkless society” since the mid-20th Century), but the COVID crisis has dramatically accelerated the shift towards online payments. The digital economy probably moved forward six years in the last six months.